|Leicester (3) 10|
|Try: Thompstone Con: Reid Pen: Reid|
|Saracens (10) 24|
|Tries: Earl 2, Tompkins Pen: Lozowski Cons: Lozowski 2, Vunipola|
Saracens made light of all their international absentees as they clung on to claim their first Premiership win of the season against Leicester Tigers.
Centre Nick Tompkins’ first-half try helped Sarries open up a 10-3 interval lead at Welford Road.
Flanker Ben Earl then crossed too, before Leicester wing Adam Thompstone latched onto Tomkins’ pass for an interception try under the posts.
But Earl’s second try on 76 minutes sealed victory for the champions.
Manu Vunipola kicked that, to add to Alex Lozowski’s two earlier conversions and a penalty, while Noel Reid landed a first-half penalty and a conversion for Leicester.
Coupled with a disallowed score of their own in the last play of the game, Sarries’ third try denied Leicester a losing bonus point to leave the Tigers still pointless after being beaten at Worcester Warriors in last weekend’s season opener.
Mark McCall’s Saracens, who still have 12 players on World Cup duty, bounced back well from losing at home to Northampton Saints eight days ago.
Scotland flanker Duncan Taylor returned to club action following the World Cup, but 11 other Sarries players remain in Japan – seven of whom, including captain Owen Farrell, were in England’s 23-man squad for Saturday’s semi-final win over New Zealand.
They have now been joined by scrum-half Ben Spencer, whose late call-up as an injury replacement led to an outing for the impressive Richard Wigglesworth, while Alex Goode is out for up to four months with a chest injury, with Manu Vunipola coming in at fly-half.
Tigers, who lost lock Will Spencer after just eight minutes and then also the returning Kyle Eastmond inside the first half hour, still have five players out on duty in the Far East in the victorious England squad.
After going 17-3 down following Earl’s first try, the Tigers brought on number eight Sione Kalamafoni, back from World Cup duties with Tonga.
And, with still 20 minutes left, Thompstone gave his side hope when he intercepted Tompkins’ telegraphed pass before running 75 metres to score.
But Earl closed the door four minutes from time when he seized on a loose ball to score his second after Sean Maitland and George Worth had contested Vunipola’s kick.
Leicester Tigers: Worth; Thompstone, Viljoen, Eastmond, Holmes; Reid, White; Bateman, Kerr, Heyes, Spencer, Green (capt), Liebenberg, Reffell, Thompson.
Replacements: Wells for Spencer (8), Hardwick for Eastmond (26), Harrison for White (52), Kalamafoni for Reffell (52), Leatigaga for Heyes (57), Olowofela for Thompstone (67), Gigena for Bateman (67), Clare for Kerr (67).
Saracens: Gallagher; Maitland, Lozowski, Tompkins, Lewington; Vunipola, Wigglesworth; Barrington, Woolstencroft, Lamositele, Skelton, Isiekwe, Clark, Earl, Wray (capt).
Replacements: Adams-Hale for Barrington (53), Taylor for Lozowski (57), Kpoku for Skelton (64), Wainwright for Lamositele (70), Segun for Lewington (78), Whiteley for Wigglesworth (78), Gray for Woolstencroft (78), Hunter-Hill for Clark (78).
Referee: Tom Foley (RFU).